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Why Ken Holland has handled the Athanasiou situation right

Tick tock… tick tock… tick tock. As we’ve waited all off-season for RFA Andreas Athanasiou to come to terms on a new contract with Detroit, things only seem to be getting worse. 

According to Mlive, the Wings have offered him a 2-year deal with an AAV of $1.9M as well as a 1-year deal worth $1.25M. Athanasiou is seeking a deal worth $2.5M per year. Apparently the holdup isn’t due to the salary cap, according to CBS Detroit, leaving many wondering why AA remains unsigned. Because of this, many fans have been calling for Ken Holland’s head, but – hear me out on this – Holland has handled this negotiation correctly.

The major key here is that if AA heads off to somewhere in Europe, Detroit still retains his rights. Which means, if he returns next season, he will still be an RFA with no arbitration rights meaning there is no reason to rob the bank to pay him. The main purpose of not giving first time RFA’s arbitration rights is so that the player doesn’t have leverage. If Holland were to budge and give him what he wants, any young kid (specifically Larkin and Mantha next season) will come in and demand the world.

One example I can think of is when Eric Lindros wanted to be traded out of Quebec City. The reality for Quebec was that, if they trade him after just being drafted, any new kid can just say “I don’t want to play here, trade me.” How this applies to the AA situation is that, if they see Holland doesn’t take advantage of the control he has, they can get exactly what they want.

Also, I don’t know if AA is just being stubborn or if his agent is a complete moron, but the offers they have given him are pretty fair. I’ve seen some people ask how is AA worth less then Abdelkader, Ericsson, Helm, etc. Those contracts were given to them as UFA deals, so they shouldn’t even be a comparison. Looking at AA’s case, Sam Bennett, Josh Anderson, and Connor Brown are the best comparables to him. All of these players this off-season signed new deals as first time RFA’s in the range of $1.8M and $2.1M. All of these players have put up similar scoring stats and are still unproven players in the NHL. It’s worth noting, AA has the same agent as both Sam Bennett and Josh Anderson.

Ken Holland has given AA a reasonable offer and kept the control he is suppose to have during negotiations with RFA’s without arbitration rights. He’s done everything he could possibly do and Holland would be wise to remain firm on his original offer and let AA decide for himself. At the end if the day, if this doesn’t reach a resolution this season, Detroit will still keep AA’s NHL rights, which is the most important.

  • Katch22

    I have to think there is more to this story. He was treated pretty unfairly last year in my opinion , and this is likely playing a factor.

    I think his inability to play defense is over stated and I think the need for him to be a 2 way player is over rated. He is an offensive threat and to me it’s fine if that is all that he is. He isnt as bad defensively as everyone is forced to believe. Vanek was sheltered like crazy.
    This team in particular needs everyone to play defense because no one on defense is able to play it properly. It is a fundamental problem with the organization.
    If he signs a contract and continues to sit on the bench, how will that benefit him when it’s time for the next contract?
    He may be banking on the fact that this coach and gm won’t be there next year and to be honest….i am too